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                    Archive for Dec 2005


                    Salt Lake Tribune News Quiz

                    I scored 105 or 125 on the Tribune News Trivia Quiz. I took the Salt Lake Tribune's News Trivia Quiz and scored 105 out 125. That qualifies me as an official news junkie. I missed questions about entertainment--the one thing that doesn't interest me much. Try it and see how you do. I'm surprised they don't have ads on the quiz--lot's of page views. The quiz has a bug in the HTML form presenting the questions. The top radio button doesn't have the same name as the bottom two, so it's possible to select more than one answer. Of course,
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                    The Tolerance Continuum

                    Dion Hitchcliffe has a nice graphic on his blog showing a tolerance continuum. Notice at the top are things like HTML, RSS and folkonomies. At the bottom are ontologies, RDF, and enterprise applications like CRM and ERP. I spoke with Dion yesterday and he talked to me about governance mistakes he sees clients making. The number one problem is something he called the "tyranny of the ?MUST understand' flag." You get a SOAP-based Web service loaded up with WS-* header elements all tagged 'MUST understand' and you end up with something every-bit as much a central command and control
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                    Winer Nails It

                    This is so true: If the people promoting an idea say nasty things about people who differ with them, and if they have to take their swipes anonymously, they must not have a lot to say that's substantial, and they clearly aren't willing to stand behind their own thinking. From Scripting News: 12/26/2005Referenced Wed Dec 28 2005 19:03:49 GMT-0700 (MST)
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                    Toward More Tolerant SOA

                    In writing the SOA governance piece for InfoWorld, I've been thinking a lot about how organizations can misuse governance. I've been spending some time reading what Jeff Schneider and Dion Hitchcliffe have to say on the subject of tolerance. One thing that springs to mind is to get overly restrictive in ways that cover up poor design and reduce loose coupling. Here are a few examples I was turning over in my mind. Suppose that my organization is making a commitment to SOA. One of the issues that will come up that requires governance is choosing a standard for
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                    What Does This Data Tell You?

                    I ran across this article about the State of Mississippi's Web site. What caught my eye was the information that the site had jumped from 49th place in Brown University's study to 9th place. Now, I'm sure they all worked hard and that this is a great accomplishment, but the very fact that you can jump so far in a single year underscores the assertion that state Web portals really aren't offering very much. The truth is that we are still just playing around at level 2 of a four level eGovernment maturity model. The state eGovernment portals built
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                    Mashup Camp

                    David Berlind is hosting a Mashup Camp next month. He's looking for participants and people who've created mashups they'd like to debut. Good idea--I like these unconferences.
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                    International Association of Software Architects

                    I didn't know there was an International Association of Software Architects. Did you? Membership appears to be free.
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                    Erasing the Digital Signature Law

                    I have a piece at Between the Lines about State Sen. Lyle Hillyard's plan to repeal Utah's digital signature law in the next term. That's not a bad thing since it's not being used, but there are things Utah could do to make digital signatures work. I think Utah ought to be the first state to become a CA and issue a digital signature with every drivers license.
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                    Programming Head Shakers

                    If you're not reading The Daily WTF and you program, you really ought to give it a spot in your attention stream. Today's entry is a classic: using a termporary file instead of sprintf. The comments are pretty good as well, dissecting the code and pointing out all kinds of style programs. A humorous way to learn from bad examples.
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                    More Diebold Hacking Demonstrations

                    The Miami Herald has an article on some recent demonstrations that aimed to show Florida officials how easy it would be to hack into electronic voting machines and change the outcome of the election. (They've also got some really annoying Javascript popups that mess up the page.) BlackBox hired Herbert Thompson, a computer-science professor and strategist at Security Innovation, which tests software for companies such as Google and Microsoft. Thompson couldn't hack into the system from the outside. So Sancho gave him access to the central machine that tabulates votes and to the last school election at Leon County
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                    Home Made Digital Clock

                    You're going to want to be watching this at midnight on Dec 31.
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                    Best Blog Posts of 2005

                    Mr. Snitch is looking for nominations for the best blog posts of 2005. Send a nomination his way, if you have one.
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                    Don't Click It

                    This is an interesting Web site.
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                    Computers That Control You

                    Commenting on my piece yesterday about TPM (trusted platform module) and computers that control you rather than the other way around, Jon Udell says: Presumably no controls take effect unless the TPM is not merely activated by the operating system, but also pressed into service to guard some piece of protected content. So in theory it needn't affect you if you're creating rich media that you intend others to use freely, or if you're using rich media that others have created with the same intent. From Jon Udell: Technologies of control, technologies of useReferenced Fri Dec 16 2005 16:54:14
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                    Document Style and State Transfer

                    Mark Baker has a nice, short write-up of how document style Web services differ from RPC-style and how that's related to state transfer (the last part of Representational State Transfer, or REST). An interesting point that Mark makes is that multi-method protocols (like HTTP) affect the semantics of the message. POSTing a message has different meaning that PUTting the same message. While this seems obvious after you say it, I'm not sure it's a point explicitly recognized by some people.
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                    Tech State or State Tech?

                    John Palfrey, Executive Director of Harvard's Berkman Center, made some remarks a few days ago on the proper role of government with respect to open standards. He did so in the context of Microsoft trying to use the Massachusetts Legislature to do an end run around the Massachusetts CIO on the issue of adopting open standards. John talks about the proper role of Government in this struggle: That job is not to choose between competing technology vendors, circa 2005, in a fast-changing marketplace. The elephant in the room is the struggle between Microsoft on the one hand and IBM
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                    Structuring Citations

                    Scott Lemon sent me a note about Firefox Scholar, (more) a proposed plug-in for Firefox that would make using citation data on the Web easier. I'm not clear on how different it is from CiteULike other than being browser based instead of Web based. That got me thinking that their ought to be a microformat for BibTeX. While I was looking around, I ran into this page at microformats.org and that led me to information on COiNs, a way of inserting citation data into a <span/>. It's not a microformat since it doesn't tag individual elements in ways that
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                    TPM and Positive ID

                    There's an article at MSNBC about how Trusted Computing Platform (TCP) chips, already installed in many computers, could be used to provide "positive ID" on the Internet and end anonymity. I find articles dealing with Internet identity in the mainstream media usually scare me--and this one is no exception. What scares me is the willingness people have to sweep aside technical hurdles, privacy concerns, and practicality in wide-eyed optimism about how technology will eventually solve all our Identity problems. With a TPM onboard, each time your computer starts, you prove your identity to the machine using something as simple
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                    Intel QX3 Microscope and OS X

                    salt 60x I've had an old Intel Play QX3 microscope hanging around the house for a while. My oldest daughter got it for Christmas years ago, but lately it's been gathering dust. It caught my eye tonight and I decided to see if there's an OS X driver for it. I was pleasantly surprised to see there is. I couldn't get it to work at first. I had to change the resolution in the software to 320x240 before I got a picture. That's not documented anywhere. Still the Maccam software is pretty good--even controls the top and bottom lights correctly
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                    Wikibooks

                    Wikibooks is an effort to do to books what Wikipedia did to the encyclopedia: build them using shared, open source collaboration. I think this could have some real application to texts and class notes. From the few I checked out, it seems like it's still more idea than reality. Books are bigger than encyclopedia entries, so they will be more likely to be incomplete. This will negatively affect user's perception of quality. Wikibooks could probably use some way of segmenting works in progress from those in production and some community based way to promote books from the draft bookshelf
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                    SOA Governance Questions

                    As I work on my SOA governance story, I came up with a list of questions for companies about SOA governance. Feel free to leave comments or to contact my directly with answers and ideas. As I dig into this, it's clear there's a book waiting to be written around this topic. How would you characterize the stage your company is at in deploying SOA-based systems? (some examples; pilot, beginning, advanced) Do you have a strong Enterprise IT Governance process now? If so, how is you SOA governance related to IT governance? Is it just a piece of it
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                    Fishing Rivers of Information

                    Dave Winer has some comments about Flickr's use of RSS: I know I'm the last person to discover how clever Flickr's RSS is. Here's the story. People were adding me as a contact as I kept uploading folders of pictures from my backlog. I would get an email every time it happened. I wondered why. I wonder no more. I started adding them as my own contacts, slowly, a few days ago. Cool, when I'd go to my Flickr contacts page, I could see if Betsy or Rex, Tara or Stewart had uploaded some new pics. Excellent. Then yesterday
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                    Cut the Vision in Half and Ship It

                    How many of us can relate to this? Moral: If you find yourself talking more than walking, shut up, cut the vision in half, and launch it. You can always fill in the gaps later. In fact, you'll know more about what gaps need to be filled after you've launched "half a feature" than if you tried to fill them in before launching anything. From Simple means launching something - Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals)Referenced Tue Dec 13 2005 09:52:40 GMT-0700 (MST)
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                    SSH Tricks

                    Linux Journal has a nice article on Eleven SSH Tricks. These, of course, work on OS X as well. If you're an OS X user, you may not be all that interested in the first one, X11 forwarding, but skip that one and read the rest. I've used SSH for years for securing remote sessions and copying operations. I've never used it for port forwarding, but I may play with that a little. BYU doesn't offer VPNs for faculty and I've never bothered to set one up myself. Port forwarding would take care of some of the little things
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                    Preparing Students to be Influential

                    In The University: An Owner's Manual, Henry Rosovsky discusses the varied "owners" of a university: students, parents, alumni, employers, and faculty. Similarly, academic departments are always torn between who their customers are. This always affects faculty discussions about almost everything. In the BYU CS Department, we have a goal of developing and graduating CS majors who will have influential careers. That's a hard thing to define and difficult achieve. There are some who argue that "influential" is wishy washy and while it sounds nice isn't anything that can really drive decisions. I disagree. Designers, architects, and CTOs are more
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                    Google's Golden Rules for Effective Technical Teams

                    Hey! It's Google Day at Technometria. Not really, but this was still interesting. Google's Eric Schmidt and UC Berkeley's Hal Varian list ten "golden rules" that Google tries to follow: Hire by committee. Cater to their every need. Pack them in. Make coordination easy. Eat your own dog food. Encourage creativity. Strive to reach consensus. Don't be evil. Data drive decisions. Communicate effectively. The goal is to be a good place for knowledge workers. They start by talking about Drucker: At google, we think business guru Peter Drucker well understood how to manage the new breed of "knowledge workers."
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                    Google and Taguchi

                    Jeff Huber, an old friend from Excite@Home days, landed in this Cringely column on whether or not Google is using Taguchi to optimize return on AdSense. Jeff, who heads engineering for AdSense, says "In short, no."
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                    SOA Governance Article

                    I'm working on an article on SOA governance for InfoWorld. If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them. What I'm not looking for is emails that say things like the one I got yesterday. The PR person claimed her client has been "delivering SOA governance" to customers, like you can buy governance by the gross. I've been collecting some articles I run across at this del.icio.us tag. I'm particularly interested in hearing about what people doing large SOA deployments are doing about governance.
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                    XRI, XDI, and Identity

                    I flew down to Oakland today to attend Andy Dale's XDI Workshop (slides and video available, eventually, on the wiki). XRI's one of those things I've wanted to understand better and I decided that going to a workshop with Andy was the best way to do that. Call me lazy. Andy subtitled his presentation "an implementor's guide" and started off with an off-the-cuff comment that XDI is mostly at a stage where it can be implemented. Globally Unique identifiers You can't talk about distributed management without talking about global unique identifiers (GUIs). These are things like phone numbers. Local
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                    Novell's New CTO

                    I'd have done it for half that.
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                    Capability Discovery for Identity Protocols

                    While is possible that a single identity system will emerge for the Internet, it's not likely. Hence the claim by Microsoft's InfoCard to be a "meatasystem" for identity. That is, an infrastructure that other identities can ride on. Alternately, others are building such a metasystem from the bottom up. Right now, that effort goes by the unfortunate moniker of YADIS. YADIS is a way of discovering the capabilites of various identity systems. Drummond Reed just announced that YADIS will also include i-names in addition to OpenID and LID.
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                    NumSum and Other MicroApplications

                    I've been playing with a writable Web application called NumSum, a Web-based spreadsheet. Here's a little test spreadsheet I created. They have a "blog this" feature which creates an iFrame of the spreadsheet. Here's what it looks like: Go ahead and change some cells and it will recalculate. Your changes won't be persistent. This is unlikely to put Office out of business anytime soon, but as a demo application, it shows just how far this might go. Doesn't feel like a Web-app, does it? NumSum was built to show off the capabilities of TrimPath, a "web Model-View-Controller framework that
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                    Decipher This


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                    CTO Breakfast Report

                    This morning's CTO breakfast was a lot of fun. We're getting a very good turn out and the discussion is excellent. The tenor of the discussion is different than at other technical meetings because the group has a fair number of CTOs, past CTOs, Director of Engineering types. That said, it's not exclusively that--there are plenty of young, fresh perspectives as well. It's a great mix that leads to good discussion. We started off with a question about recruiting good technical talent and that led to a 50 minute discussion about hiring, managing, and, when necessary, letting go of
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                    More Pictures from IIW2005

                    I found I hadn't uploaded the photos I took at IIW2005 on day two. I've done so now, if you're interested.
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                    Geek Dinner Report and Pictures

                    December's Geek Dinner at Los Hermanos I have a few pictures from last night's geek dinner. My talk went pretty well, but the Internet was out just when I was talking (worked before and after), so some of the demos I wanted to show involved some handwaving. One of the hardest questions to answer on microformats is "why would I want to do that?" Reminds me of XML in 1998. The place was packed--well over 60 people. Phil Burns did a good job of running the dinner and keeping everything humming. Pete Ashdown was there and got a loud round
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                    What Kind of Blogger Are You?

                    Mister Snitch identifies seven different styles of blogging that can result in high traffic. What kind are you?
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                    Middleware Course

                    I'm teaching a graduate course next semester that's called "middleware" although that's really just a title that I chose to represent what it's not. The course will be about digital identity, Web services, service oriented architectures, and so on. Its what I call a papers and projects course: reading and writing papers combined with building things. I taught it last year and thought it worked out pretty well. If you're a grad student, you can sign up right now. If now, just bring an add card the first day of class and I'll sign it. Prereqs are CS462.
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